Virginia Barton

30 June 2017: Church furniture


30 June 2017



Patrick died in mid-June, he was 88. A fixture in our church for many years, his death is akin to kicking out the wedge that was propping up that old cupboard you’d always meant to repair, but never got round to. The wedge kept the cupboard straight which in turn meant the door would shut. Without the wedge the whole thing listed and the door kept swinging open.

Please don’t mistake me, I intend no comparison between our lovely church building and an old cupboard. I was writing metaphorically.


Actually, there was a wedgey woodiness about Patrick, a hewn figure, hardy, strong. There were few practical tasks he couldn’t tackle. He dealt with the rubbish and the recycling — you can imagine the mountains of paper in a parish church. He cleaned things, trimmed candles and carried chairs. He went up ladders without number to change spent light bulbs or clear gutters. He swabbed floors when things were spilled and did the shopping for the needs of the Meeting Room: tea bags, biscuits, sugar and the like.

Patrick knew the names of the local homeless, the tramps and the beggars; many of whom he would entertain in the said Meeting Room. He was the exemplar of giving his tunic as well as the shirt off his back and of going the extra mile. In autumn swept up the leaves, in winter the snow, as the season dictated so that no-one should slip when they came to Mass.

As often as not he was here about, part of the furniture of our church.


Some kindly Saint seems to make sure that as one Patrick leaves us another takes his place. There was Michael, and his brother Tim; and before Tim, Clem. Clem who came when the church was built in the Sixties and set the benchmark for all the sacristans that followed.

Now Brian silently slips into Patrick’s role as guardian; preparing the hymn books and Newsletters for Sunday, filling the holy water stoup, changing the light in the sanctuary, laying the altar and a hundred other duties, week in week out.

Thank heavens for these humble, generous, tireless men; they are indeed heaven sent.






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